The Importance and Value of Succession Planning

I’m a firm believer that there is a science to a lot of management. The reason there are books that provide guidance for managing better is because following the strategies and suggestions contained therein are often helpful, and we are continually learning more about people and how they work and what motivates them. But I have begun to think that succession planning is more art than science. That doesn’t make it less important to prioritize, it just makes it harder and requires more deliberation and practice. There are some solid tips that can help, but you’ll need to think a lot about it and begin to hone your instincts on this subject.

Succession planning is necessary in two different instances: either you need to plan to replace a subordinate, or you need to plan to replace yourself. And you should have a plan in mind for every employee you have, even if the plan is relatively simplistic. As the axiom goes, plans are worthless, but planning is essential. The situation will change often, and your plans will need updated too, but if you fail to plan you’ll be caught with a gap in your staff’s capabilities that could be devastating.

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Mapping the way forward

You know your goal. It’s pretty straightforward: this is what you have to do. There’s really no question about it.

But how do you get there? That’s where things become tricky.

If you need to train a work force, learn or teach a new process, or implement a new system, building documentation either in advance of the implementation or at the same time will make your life and the lives of your employees significantly easier. Many teams put off writing documentation until after the project is done (“We wanted to wait until we had everything settled,” or “We didn’t have time!”), and then never go back so the process becomes lost, new employees take longer to train, and work processes are based on an ambiguous oral tradition.

SilverPen Publishing’s documentation consultation service can help you create a plan. We will assist in identifying the documentation you need to create; answer questions about software, formatting, and processes; and help you understand what steps need to be taken to get the work done. We can  also answer questions about wikis, Sharepoint sites, and other means of storing or sharing documentation.

To learn more about our documentation consultation services, just send us a quick message. We’re here to help.

Writing for Work

A large part of my job is related to writing and communication. It’s one of the things I was hired for, and it plays to my strengths, both of which are Good Things. I’ve noticed recently that it seems to be changing my writing style, though. Both at home and at work, my sentences have become shorter and more stuttered, and my transitions in particular are lacking. I’ve had trouble describing things eloquently, to the extent that even my work communications seem lesser to me than they once were.

One of our student workers complimented me on my writing yesterday, but since I’d already been thinking about how little I liked my day’s work, it didn’t make me feel a lot better. By the end of the day, I had spend about 7.5 hours solid writing guides and documentation that had to be done before a number of things go live on Monday. It wasn’t so much that I had put them off as I had been so busy I hadn’t had time until yesterday. Also, two or three of the guides I wrote were only assigned to me two days ago.

The point is, it’s not that I’m not writing. I’m writing a lot these days, but a lot of it is at work, and that seems to be stunting my writing elsewhere. It’s like exercise: if you only exercise one muscle group all the time, the rest will suffer. I need to be exercising other writing muscles more frequently.

It comes to my mind as I look at that last sentence what the answer is, or might be: I need to return to writing poetry. I’m currently re-reading Kushiel’s Dart, one of my favourite books, and the author is clearly a lover of poetry. Most of the great fiction writers were, and the ability to briefly but beautifully describe something is a goal to which I aspire. I haven’t written much poetry since I met April and found myself becoming happier, but it would certainly exercise muscles long left dormant.

Can you recommend particular poems you love? Not books or authors, but individual poems you find remarkable enough to remember the title and tell others about?